Azerbaijan President cements power in boycotted parliamentary polls

 Azerbaijan's ruling party won an outright majority Sunday in parliamentary polls that were boycotted by the mainstream opposition, near-complete results showed, cementing strongman President Ilham Aliyev's grip on power.

Baku:  Azerbaijan's ruling party won an outright majority Sunday in parliamentary polls that were boycotted by the mainstream opposition, near-complete results showed, cementing strongman President Ilham Aliyev's grip on power.

The Central Election Commission said Aliyev's Yeni (New) Azerbaijan party took at least 69 seats in the country's 125-seat parliament, with 91 percent of votes counted.

International rights groups have cast doubt on the election, accusing the government of jailing political opponents on trumped-up charges and limiting parties' ability to campaign in the ex-Soviet state.

Not a single election held in Azerbaijan since Aliyev came to power in 2003 has been recognised as free and fair by international observers.

The leader of the opposition Musavat party, Isa Gambar, told AFP that a win for Aliyev's party was a foregone conclusion "in the absence of strong opposition candidates and amid widespread violations".

He decried "countless instances of electoral fraud, including multiple voting and illegal restrictions on observers' work".

Final voter turnout stood at 55.7 percent, said the Central Election Commission.

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